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Like a Lover [MultiFormat]
eBook by Lynn Michaels

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Love and money. The perfect design for murder? Within two weeks of inheriting twenty-five percent of Lightbody Inc. from her father, fashion designer Jay-Jay Lightbody has two close calls: a suspicious house fire and a near-miss from a hit-and-run driver. Now there's a man, wearing the most god-awful clothes she's ever seen, shadowing her every move. Turns out he's Gerald Kilroy, a private detective hired by her overly alarmed grandmother to find out why someone is trying to kill her. Kill her? Gerald's crazy handsome, but the idea that someone would want her dead is just nuts. But after receiving a threatening letter at work, she can't ignore the obvious. But who wants her dead? The ex-suitor who still sends her roses? The jealous half-sister who didn't inherit? Or--most frightening of all--someone she trusts? As the attempts on Jay-Jay's life escalate, and Kilroy races to solve the mystery, their attraction explodes in a cataclysm hot enough to melt a lake full of winter ice. The only question is, will they find the culprit before death closes in over their heads. This book has been previously published.

eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., Published: 2012, 2012
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2012

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His clothes were the first thing Jay-Jay Lightbody noticed. They were awful--kelly-green blazer, mud-brown shirt, bright yellow V-necked sweater, and navy-blue slacks underneath a tan trench coat as crumpled as a week-old paper lunch sack. The man strolling the el platform was a fashion designer's nightmare.

The second thing she noticed was his Roman bumped nose, and last, but certainly not least, was the ringless third finger of his left hand. Lots of married men didn't wear rings, yet Jay-Jay always interpreted a naked finger as a good omen.

Because she was looking at him instead of her feet, she tripped as she boarded the elevated train and stumbled into the car. Accustomed to his cousin's clumsiness, Peter Lightbody deftly caught her arm, led her to a seat, and sat down opposite her. The hopeful smile Jay-Jay directed at the doors dimmed a little when the man stepped into the car, walked toward the rear, and sat down facing her but not looking at her.

"So much for eye contact," Peter teased, the corners of his gray-green eyes crinkling with amusement. "Y'know, Toothpick, Gran would faint if you brought that eyesore home."

"Clothes, my dear cousin," she replied airily as she peeled off her plum-colored knit gloves, "do not make the man."

Gasping, Peter clutched his chest, his fingers tangling in the green wool muffler tied around his neck. "Blasphemy from the heir apparent."

Jay-Jay crossed her thickly lashed blue eyes at him and stuck out her tongue. Blinking to clear her vision, she looked down the car and saw the man staring at her. When her gaze met his, he turned his head toward the window.

The train shuddered and lurched forward. Jay-Jay opened her burgundy leather shoulder bag, took out a small sketch pad and pencil, and crossed her blue-jeaned legs. Peter traded seats to sit beside her and watch her draw. His arm gently rocked against her left shoulder as the train clacked southward toward the Loop past low, suburban rooftops that were occasional splashes of color against the winter-dulled sky.

Once she'd penciled in the man's square jaw, Jay-Jay paused to study his oddly shaped earlobes. He glanced at the floor, at the other passengers half-filling the car, read the advertisements posted on the dingy beige walls and the graffiti scrawled beneath--he looked everywhere but at her. Sighing, she drew in his nose sans the clipped, reddish moustache that sat above his upper lip like twin benchmarks, then frowned and reluctantly shaded it in. She didn't like moustaches, but his definitely helped soften the corners of his jaw.

Commuters boarding at the next two stops filled the seats between them, and she could just see the top of his chestnut-brown head over fur hats, fedoras, and pom-pommed knit caps. Giving up on her sketch, she closed the pad and tucked it and the pencil back into her purse.

Peter gave her a quick, consoling hug. "Well, Toothpick, at least you'll have something to remember him by."

"Alas." She pressed her hand to the buttoned front of her plum-colored, quilted down coat. "I'll never know what I missed."

"If his wardrobe's any indication," Peter said with a grin as the train slowed and he brushed a fallen lock of auburn hair off his forehead, "you didn't miss much."

"Oh, low blow, Beau Brummell." Jay-Jay clicked her tongue at him and pulled on her gloves.

"Below the belt maybe." He shrugged and rose as the train hissed and shuddered to a halt. "But accurate."

Jay-Jay moved toward the doors with Peter, tugging her plum velveteen cloche around her ears and peering around the passengers jostling their way out of the car for a last glimpse of the man in the rumpled trench coat. She stepped on a woman's rubber-booted foot, excused herself, and saw the man looking at her. She turned away as quickly as he did and met her cousin on the platform.

As they hurried across the wind-scoured expanse of concrete and down the steps to the sidewalk, a sharp, icy blast of air straight off Lake Michigan buffeted her against Peter.

"Oh, how I wish," he said, his teeth chattering, "that you hadn't backed your car into mine."

"Why didn't you honk?" she replied, shivering.

At the corner they turned right, and the soaring downtown buildings closed around them like the walls of a canyon.

In the middle of the second street they crossed, Jay-Jay caught a glimpse of her reflection in a glass storefront--and behind her, the face of the man in the tan trench coat. Halfway down the block, she stopped at a newsstand with Peter, and another icy blast pasted her coat to her legs. Turning her back to the wind, she saw him again--not ten feet behind her--veering suddenly toward the curb and looking back over his shoulder.

Tucking a folded Tribune under his arm, Peter caught her elbow and turned her toward the Lightbody Building. "C'mon, Toothpick, you're impeding traffic."

"Pete, I think that guy's following us."

"What guy?"

"The eyesore."

"Wishful thinking."

"Wait." Jay-Jay jerked her cousin to a halt and watched the man's reflection in the plate-glass window on her right. "See? We stopped and so did he."

Peter glanced over his shoulder. The man moved out of the crowd on the sidewalk and dropped to one knee.

"He's tying his shoe, for God's sake." He pulled her forward another five steps before Jay-Jay dug in her heels.

"I'm telling you, he's following us."

"Toothpick." Peter smiled tolerantly. "Guys that good-looking don't follow you--you follow them."

"Fifty bucks says he is."

"Why do you bet me? I always win."

"I can afford to lose. Fifty bucks."

"Okay. Now how're you going to find out?"

"Ask him." Jay-Jay wheeled around and walked toward the man.

As she approached, he cut through the throng on the sidewalk, moved to the curb, and leaned one shoulder against a metal pole supporting a Chicago Transit Authority sign. Lifting her chin and clenching both hands around the strap of her shoulder bag, Jay-Jay stopped beside him.

"Why are you following me?"

He turned his head to look at her, and she noticed his brown eyes were the same color as a Hershey bar. "I'm not following you. I'm waiting for a bus."

"You just got off the el five minutes ago."

"Well, then." He reached inside his coat, pulled out a black leather wallet, and flipped it open. "I guess the jig's up."

She read the laminated plastic card and looked up at his face. Judging from her scant five feet two inches, Jay-Jay decided he must be almost a foot taller than she. With a neck and shoulders like an Andalusian bull, he looked more like a linebacker for the Bears than a private detective.

"Anybody can buy an I.D. like that in the dime store."

"Nonetheless," he replied, unperturbed, as he tucked the wallet inside his coat, "I'm Gerald Kilroy, and I'm a private investigator."

"Why are you following me?"

"I suggest you ask your grandmother, Miss Lightbody."

Startled, Jay-Jay took a cautious half step backward. "How," she asked warily, "do you know my name?"

"I know everything there is to know about you except why someone might be trying to kill you. That's what your grandmother hired me to find out. And in the meantime to make sure whoever it is doesn't succeed."

Drawing a deep breath and taking another two steps away from him, Jay-Jay clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. Oh, what a shame, she thought sadly. So tall. So handsome. So crazy.

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